quarta-feira, 29 de abril de 2015

About formal analysis of gameplay

To construct meaning and understand the complex relationships of gameplay and player, it’s necessary to observe the ludic universe with an accurate vision. Gaming research helps us find some answers for this intricate industry, creating better experiences. In this context, it’s fundamental to remember that “(g)ames are seen as data and the research build understanding on games and how they work, provide experiences or information to its players” (LANKOSKI; BJÖRK, 2015, p.6).

One methodological form to observe the binomial relation gameplay-player is formal analysis. Formal analysis of gameplay, specifically in games, takes a basis in studying a game independently of context or platform, that is, without regarding which specific people are playing a specific instance of the game; although a specific group of players (independent of age, gender or social class) can be considered for the analysis, it’s important to highlight these are descriptions of players used for analyzing the gameplay and not descriptions of their gameplay (LANKOSKI; BJÖRK, 2015, p.23).

As an example, we can bring to our discussion the analysis of an analogical game (dice, card, board) and its rulebook to discover nuances about the underlying system. In this case, a formal analysis could be done purely by observing the gaming components and together with the understanding gained by playing; the experience of the players and how gaming dynamics operates processes in this context is another important point of the analysis (LANKOSKI; BJÖRK, 2015, p.23).

There’s a lack of books about methodological principles for games, but recently a very good one was launched for free on the Internet. Its name is “Game research methods: an overview”, a very complete compendium with many good articles that certainly will enlighten your thoughts about gaming research. CLICK HERE to download.


LANKOSKI, Petri; BJÖRK, Staffan (Eds.). Game research methods: an overview. Halifax: ETC Press, 2015.

terça-feira, 21 de abril de 2015

The king of kong : A Fistful of quarters

A documentary about fanatic players, records and games. The king of kong is one of my favorites movies about the gaming industry and I want to share this content in this post. Watch the full video below:

Synopsis: Named "Video Game Player of the Century" in 1999, Billy Mitchell sets a record score in "Donkey Kong" that many felt would never be broken. In 2003 Steve Wiebe, who has recently lost his job, learns about the record, sets out to beat it and does. So both men embark on a cross-country battle for inclusion in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records as the supreme king of the electronic game.


terça-feira, 14 de abril de 2015

Bloodborne: a ludic masochism

Last week, I started to play Bloodborne (Playstation 4, 2015). As Dark Souls and Demons Souls, the new From Software game has an extreme level of difficulty and challenge. Every simple wrong move could put you six feet under and, every time you die, you lose all your progress. Add to this equation some monsters with weapons and the stage is ready for the fight.

This is a game where you need patience to learn small details to survive. A friend of mine even questioned me why people like to play this kind of game. It’s a “ludic masochism”, he sad. Check the trailer below:

Well, the gaming industry is plural and we have games for all kinds of players. Bloodborne fits in a category of high-challenging games, and an example of it is the great difficulty of the narrative. Jesper Juul (2013) helps us understand better this ecosystem and how people play this kind of “torture”. The author teaches us that “games are a perspective on failure and learning as enjoyment, or satisfaction” (2013, p.45). To complement this idea, Juul (2013, p.56) also says that “we are emotionally affected by games, and we are aware of this before we start playing”.

This feeling of failure and victory are sides of the same coin. One thing is important: the game must have a plausible solution even for well-skilled players. An impossible game could be only a frustrating experience. Giving hints of progress is fundamental in this scenario. And it’s important to remember that the “problem with fictional tragedy also showed that it is failure that makes us feel responsible for the events in the fictional “JUUL, 2015, p.117).

I think we must play all kinds of games, from casual games to experiments like Bloodborne. In both cases, I try to identify how the experience of victory and failure is created inside the gaming world. This is a fantastic exercise for game designers.


JUUL, Jesper. The Art of Failure: an essay on the pain of playing video games. Cambridge/London: MIT Press, 2013.

quarta-feira, 8 de abril de 2015

More about iterative process

Iterative design for games is one of my favorites subjects.

One first view about this methodological process comes from Zimmerman (2003, p.176), who says, “Iterative design is a design methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a work in progress”.

Source: http://goo.gl/i1wTfu

Complementing the previous idea, the process of iterative design for games, according to Fullerton, Swain and Hoffman (2008 p. 249) can be divided into few stages: A) conceptual phase: consists of generating ideas, formalizing and testing them; B) pre-production: here the ideas are reviewed to evolve and be tested again; C) the production stage: the game is tested and revised with different groups of play testers to locate errors*; D) phase of quality assurance: where the game is tested to be launched without errors.

*It's essential in this process to revise the game with different groups of play testers to locate problems and searching a free-error product (Holopainen et al., 2010, p.1).


Fullerton, T., Swain., C., Hoffman, S. Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Burlington, 2008.

Holopainen, J., Nummenmaa, T., & Kuittinen, J. (2010). Modelling experimental game design. Proceedings of DiGRA Nordic 2010: Experiencing Games: Games, Play, and Players (click here for download)

Zimmerman, E. (2003). Play as research: the iterative design process. Design Research: methods and perspectives, 176-184 (click here for download).

sexta-feira, 3 de abril de 2015

Monument Valley – Forgotten Shores

I talked about Monument Valley (UsTwo, 2014) one year ago. This game holds a special place in my smartphone and in my heart.

It’s an immersive experience created with puzzles (based on Escher illustrations) and synchronized with an awesome soundtrack that responds to player actions. It’s a masterpiece.

Now, the game gained its first expansion pack: The Forgotten Shores. With new eight levels of puzzles, the game works with new kinds of interface interaction. Check the improvements on the trailer below:

Forgotten Shores is a lesson on how to maintain an engaging game in its expansion pack. The experience is short but very instigating. It’s an essential game to study and play many times.